Last night, the DePaul Blue Demons cruised to an easy 101-84 win over St. John's. The win came after an eight day layoff caused by the postponement of games against Butler and Creighton. The Blue Demons showed absolutely no rust from the long break.
DePaul scored first and never lost the lead. Their biggest lead was 26 points midway through the third quarter.
DePaul led in most team categories, except for bench points, with St. John's outscoring DePaul 19-6. DePaul led in points in the paint (56-48), points from turnovers (27-12), second chance points (19-9) and fast break points (33-30).
The points off the bench discrepancy is a bit misleading, as DePaul relied heavily on their starters throughout the game. DePaul head coach Doug Bruno discussed the aggressive play of the Blue Demons, despite the large lead. It's about keeping the team sharp and consistent (as opposed to showing up an opponent). Bruno mentioned being on both ends of that situation, stating all coaches understand the mindset and nobody takes offense.
DePaul led 26-14 after one quarter, 51-31 at halftime and 82-60 after three quarters. DePaul shot 48.2% from the field, 36% from three point land and 75% from the free throw line.
Dee Bekelja topped the scoring chart for DePaul with 22 points, but Lexi Held was right behind with 21. Deja Church (18), Jorie Allen (17) and Sonya Morris (17) all hit double digits. Darrione Rogers, Jolene Daninger and Kiara Dallman added two points each.
Church paced the team with nine rebounds and seven others grabbed at least one rebound. Morris had nine assists, missing a double double by one, while Held pitched in with seven assists. Seven Blue Demons had at least one steal in Bruno's suffocating defense.
Qadashah Hoppie (28) and Kadaja Bailey (22) were the only St. John's players to score double digits. Bailey also had eight rebounds and four assists.
Right from the opening tip, it seemed like the teams were in a race to 100 points. DePaul won that race with about a 30 seconds left in the game.
DePaul now stands at 7-3 and 4-1 in Big East Conference play. Coming into the game, the Blue Demons were ranked 19 by the Associated Press and 25 by the USA Today/Coaches poll.
Barring any more postponements, DePaul is set to return to action against Georgetown on Saturday, January 16 in Washington, D.C. The following games against Villanova (January 20) and Providence (January 23) have already been postponed, leaving Xavier in Cincinnati as the next game after Georgetown. Of course, things can change quickly in this pandemic.
In the post-game presser, Coach Bruno, Bekelja and Held answered game-specific questions, as well as usual. Bekelja also talked about feeling “on” early in the game and any extra fun from playng on national television. Held discussed the conditioning needed to play Bruno's aggressive defense for an entire game.
Bruno was his usual humble and respectful self. Despite the relatively easy win, he was quick to compliment St. John's. Even in discussing keeping the defensive pressure in high gear with such a big lead, Bruno passionately stated it is his style and everyone knows and respects it, just as he respects the styles of others. In the end, it is all about making the team better and preparing them for the rest of the season.
Bruno also talked about the loss of freshman Kendall Holmes, who went down with an Achilles tear earlier in the week. Everyone has to step up to help fill that void.